I'd love to say I like this, because the description sounds fascinating...the truth is, I had to start the audio over at least 3 times because it was so boring I lost track of where the story was. I did manage to "give it a try" by listerning all the way through the first 3 parts of the unabridged version. Unfortunately, the character descriptions were incongrous and difficult to follow (audibly), and I kept losing track of who was who and where each character fit into the plot/story. This audio book really is a chronilogical story that develops verrrrrrY SLOWLY. Maybe it's me - but I think there's too little action, not enough literary connection between events which leaves a lot of guesswork to the listener. Maybe the abridged version is better....I don't recommend it unless you need sometyhing to put you to sleep...
Excellent book, well written and intriguing story. keeps you wanting see what happens next in the CIA saga. good listen with excellent reader
I'm in the middle of my 2nd listen to this book. It's even better the 2nd time. If you like a good, riveting spy novel AND really long audio books, this is for you. It goes on and on -- I love that! Scott Brick is not my favorite narrator, but it works for this book.
I do not want to seem unkind in my very first review. However, after listening to this book what really springs to mind is that the author has not really finished it. It appears to have been written from a collection of notes taken and then chapters written from the notes. As a result, there was no clear flow in the story from one chapter to the next in any timeline or other solid linkage.
I am a history buff. The book contains a huge amount of interesting insights and information, and even a good story. In short, I believe that a good editing to eliminate many redundant bits of information, phraseology, etc. that seemed to be boiler plate after a while that was stuck in chapter after chapter, and a rewrite to provide a good flow to the story would have turned a well researched book with very interesting information and characters, from a C- high school effort into an exceptional book.
This book was a journey through time. Extraordinarily well-written, Littel has a way of providing detail and nuance in a way that few others I've read do. The 40+ hours I was very concerned about since I'd never listened to one that long and I was not sure if it could sustain my interest that long. But boy did it. Great characters that I cared about, good history lesson, and an author I will add to my "must listen" list.
This book is a strange mixture. On the one hand Littell seems to have researched his material well, telling the stories of the CIA since WWII in great detail and, apparently, with some accuracy. He depicts the history of The Company as a catalogue of shockingly amateurish fiascos that would be an embarrassment to a banana state, and history confirms that this was accurate. He depicts most of the characters involved, both historical and invented, as bumbling idiots who didn't have even the most rudimentary grasp of the politics involved, the nations they were trying to support or destroy or the disastrous consequences that their actions would have. Again, the CIA's track record during the period being described clearly demonstrates that this is probably a very accurate depiction.
At the same time, Littell also presents this cavalcade of dunces with a kind of gung-ho, Clancy-esque machismo that seems to indicate that he is rooting for them and that he too fails to understand the disasters that his characters are fabricating or their terrible consequences for the world as a whole.
It's hard to complain that the character depiction is flat -- the real people involved were probably even shallower in reality than Littell's portrayals. Even so, the love scenes in particular are simply painful to listen to, and get more so as the book progresses -- like the steamy fantasies of a fourteen-year-old kid who has yet to go on his first date.
Again, it does make fascinating reading, simply for the details of the history. But the pedestrian prose and the innate contradictions in the piece prevent it from being a really good book. Littell can't make up his mind whether he wants to be Le Carre or Clancy and ends up with the weaknesses of both and the strengths of neither.
As a military veteran who spent 12+ years in Army during the cold war (6 in Germany and was there when the wall fell), this was like coming home again. The characters were very well defined and colorful. If you like Clancy you'll love this book. I will read others by this author. What else can be said about Scott Brick but awsome!!! I am an admitted "Brickaholic". He's never let me down yet, one of the best.
This book is far and away the best "spy" book I've ever read/heard, and one of the best books (out of 49, all unabridged) I've ever downloaded from Audible. If I could give it more stars I would. As of the date of this review, it is the best book by Littel available here. (There is a new one out but I'v not yet read it.) The narration by Scott Brick is PERFECT for this book. His style fits this type of book very well.
The book spans the cold-war, following several characters across a great many years. It is "historical fiction" as it draws on the facts of history throughout. I've seen this book in paper, and it's huge. As an unabridged audio book, it's long. But I was completely drawn in from the beginning and it never felt like it should have been shorter, which I cannot say for every book I've read/listened to. (Anyone want to buy my doorstop er... I mean my hardback copy of Cryptonomicon? Too long by HALF at least!) This book was marvelous for my long commute. Highly recommended. 10 stars out of 10!!